rcpsychRoyal College of Psychiatrists’ (RCPsych) president Professor Sir Simon Wessely has urged all political parties to take action to ensure that the millions of people who experience mental ill health are given timely, appropriate care ahead of next year's general election.

His call came as the RCPsych launched a manifesto that urges the next government to ensure mental and physical health are given equal value.

'Making Parity a Reality' sets out the College’s wish list to help ensure that the millions of people who do, and will, experience mental health problems are given the care and support they need and deserve.

The manifesto has six key asks:
1. Everyone who requires a mental health bed should be able to access one in their local NHS Trust area, unless they need specialist care and treatment. If specialist care is required, then this should be provided within a reasonable distance of where the patient lives.

2.No-one should wait longer than 18 weeks to receive treatment for a mental health problem, if the treatment has been recommended by National Institute of Health and Care Excellence guidelines and the patient’s doctor.

3.Everyone experiencing a mental health crisis, including children and young people, should have safe and speedy access to quality care, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The use of police cells as ‘places of safety’ for children should be eliminated by 2016, and by the end of the next Parliament occur only in exceptional circumstances for adults.

4.Every acute hospital should have a liaison psychiatry service which is available 7 days a week, for at least 12 hours per day. This service should be available to patients across all ages. Emergency referrals should be seen within one hour, and urgent referrals within five working hours.

5.A minimum price for alcohol of 50p per unit should be introduced. This will reduce the physical, psychological and social harm associated with problem drinking, and will only have a negligible impact on those who drink in moderation. 

6.There should be national investment in evidence-based parenting programmes, in order to improve the life chances of children and the wellbeing of families.

In launching the strategy, Professor Wessely said: "While we welcome the fact that all three political parties are talking about mental health, and that it has never had a bigger profile, what we now need to see is good words translated into good deeds.

"To make parity a reality, these commitments need to be sustained, and delivered. The millions of people of all ages who do and will experience mental health problems deserve to be given the timely, appropriate care and support they need."

According to estimates from the Centre for Mental Health, 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem in any given year at an annual cost of £105 billion to the English economy.

For more on the strategy visit www.rcpsych.ac.uk